There are times when the scribes and Pharisees can teach us a few important things. Today, for instance, the Gospel account shows the wisdom of washing hands, washing items from the market and washing cups, pots and bronze kettles. Good practical advice! Jesus and his followers would probably get publicly called out and shamed in our COVID day and age – eating with defiled hands. Who knows what they are picking up and spreading? I, for one, would be very reluctant to shake hands.
Of course, we understand the real point that Jesus is making. He is critical of hypocrisy. Isaiah says it for him: “This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me …” Is there harmony between what I say and what I do? Jesus goes on to enumerate the sins that come from within, from the human heart.
We have an intimate knowledge of what lurks within and make us feel dirty. Our evil intentions defile us. Most of us do not intend to have those thoughts and feelings. They often arise from us in a moment of spontaneity.